My secret to sanity this Spring is to declutter and gain peace of mind. This idea is huge for me, since I love to stay active and keep samples and items with character, then find time to refurbish. I also keep things that I can transform into something else...DIY projects are great. My garage and office/guest room became cluttered to the point where I felt stressed. Can't have an extra guest room with containers of"keep it" stuff piled there. So I embarked on a journey that not only gave me space, but peace of mind at having recycled, donated and provided useful materials that will help those in need. Goodwill & Dell have a fabulous program for E-waste and I donated home improvement supplies to agencies that provide homes and apartments locally. Even my clothes went to help someone who needs a work wardrobe. My top 5 tips that I hope help you:
1. Unworn clothes
If you’re like me, you're holding onto stuff in case it comes back in style one day. Shoulder pad jackets that I loved for the fabric now begin to haunt me. "I'll get them tailored" was my mantra.....for 5 years. If you haven’t worn something in the past 12 to 18 months, you likely never will. Donate or try selling it online. Spring is a good time to analyze your cold-weather wardrobe. If you haven't worn it during the last season chances are you won't wear it again. There are women's shelters that need supplies and organizations that collect business attire to help women dress for success.
2. Office supplies
If your desk is filled with dried-out pens and White-Out bottles, you should acknowledge that those things are never ever coming back from the dead. For me, it was colored pencils and markers from design school. Yep, they still work, but haven't used them in ten years, Hook up with a local art teacher since they often buy supplies for their kids with their own funds. The random boxes of paper clips, extra stationary and other goodies went to the animal shelter resale shop to raise money to save lives.
3. Expired kitchen items
This was a bit funny. I divide and store pantry staples and things like pasta, rice and oatmeal since I buy in bulk and save, right? Not if they go bad. I found things in the pantry and even the freezer from 2008. Not worth eating. Spices get clumpy and smell "off" and I actually found 2 of a few since they got 'lost' in the back cabinets and I bought duplicates. I have a compost pile - albeit small - so quite a bit went there. The rest I had to toss. Lesson learned...don't buy too much or it's wasteful.
If you’ve made the swap and now do your reading on a Kindle or tablet, you may have tons of books you’d never even consider opening. Ironically my Kindle is now defunct since I use my iPad. But even if you don't have a device, consider donating books you've already read. Sort through your favorite books then give the rest to your local library, charity or shelter. I'll keep my Sue Grafton series for now, but the chance that I'll read those books again is slim. All the others are likely to give someone else the pleasure of a good read.
5. Garage clutter.
From paints that I won't reuse to finish products that are older and toxic, to fertilizer or insect sprays that I've found safer alternatives for, my garage cabinets were purged for my health and the health if the environment. There are safe ways to dispose of all of those things. In San Diego - http://www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/miramar/hhwtransfac.shtml I've watched neighbors pour that stuff in the sewer. Don't. Local paint stores are now required to accept old paint. They also charge a recycling fee when you buy new paint so take advantage and purge what you won't use again. After a few years that paint won't even look good when you try to touch up. Unless you do a lot of faux finishing it's just going to take up space and get old. Tools and yard equipment that I either upgraded or don't use - love my new Dewalt cordless nail gun - went to shelter resale shops and Goodwill. Someone will love my Craftsman corded power tools and have a blast doing DIY projects! Open paints and wood scraps did go to Refurbish San Diego. Habitat for Humanity is great for hardware, nails and screws and building supplies.